Interviewing Icons - A Random Day
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It has been a while since I have released one of these interviews, but I am very happy to start these back up with my friend, A Random Day. As a great author, retired moderator, and honest critic, I have always admired his work. I am pleased to present this interview to you all to hopefully kick off a slew of new interviews this year! ~ WhiteGuardWhiteGuard

Who is A Random DayA Random Day?

The user A Random Day became a member of this site on the 25th of February, 2014, and his top 3 most popular pages on the site by rating are SCP-3000: Ananteshesha at +2280, SCP-5555: Made in Heaven at +613, and SCP-2790: You've Got a Squid in Me at +414. As an author, A Random Day has written a total of 36 SCP articles, 45 Tales, 2 GoI Formats, and 31 other pages for a grand total of 114 pages contributed. The following interview will consist of 20 questions from myself with his responses.

The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are A Random Day's responses.

Interview Questions:

Howdy ARD! As per usual, how about we start off with how you came across the SCP Wiki? What drew you in to contribute and does that same draw still exist for you today? Do you happen to remember what the first article you read happened to be?

I came across the wiki in late 2013 as part of the second wave of SCP: Containment Breach fans. More specifically, after watching Jerma985 play it. I don’t think I’ve ever played it myself – I scare much more easily than you’d think – but luckily I stumbled across the site right as the SCP-2000 contest was starting.

I was hooked on the science fiction stories and the general weird fiction vibe and chomped at the bit for the opportunity to contribute. I was also drawn by the flash fiction premise - the nature of the site’s short-story focused work suits my half-baked idea process perfectly - and the scientific tone of the articles, meshed perfectly with my existing experience writing up engineering documents and grants. Because time is a flat circle, I now spend most of my energy on the site writing long tale series that I struggle to finish, but I still very much appreciate the chance to write short flash-fiction SCPs when inspiration strikes.

I’m sure that 173 was probably the first article I ever read on account of it being the star of Containment Breach, but the article that I most remember from back then is SCP-1550, “Dr. Wondertainment's Custom-Pets”. That and SCP-055 – the morning after I read it, I coldposted a tale about it that sank to deletion range before the day was out.

How would you compare your writing style from when you wrote your first article on the site to the modern-day? What do you believe were your greatest strengths and deficiencies at the time? What about today?

Honestly my style hasn’t really changed since my first article, or even since before I was writing SCPs – I’ve refined, improved, and incorporated new techniques and influences into my writing style but for the last decade or so I’ve been writing action-heavy stories about superpowered protagonists whose worst enemy is themself and no plans to stop anytime soon.

My biggest strength back then was my commitment to developing interesting story setpieces with fast-paced action and language that was just fun to read. My biggest weaknesses were my absolute refusal to plan more than one chapter ahead and also writing dialogue in general.

This is still the situation today, but I spend a lot more time now trying to rectify those weaknesses and enhance those strengths via numerous rounds of editing and rewrites where formerly I just bulled ahead with posting, which has dramatically slowed my output.

If you had to assemble the "perfect" writer on the Wiki by taking the best aspects of other authors, how would you go about it and who would you use?

My ideal authorial Voltron consists of the following people:

Pedantique, whose razor-sharp prose, delightfully vicious characters, and unparalleled action writing have made his tale series probably the most underrated gems on the site;

ch00bakka, a fantastic visual artist who pairs her gift for incredible characterization with the sensibilities of Hunter Thompson and Sappho;

Jekeled, one of the most original and daring authors who have ever written for the site – his oeuvre is among the few on the site that are truly experimental and possess the vision and attention to detail needed to make those experiments succeed;

Taffeta and minmin, who each write some of the lushest, most brutal and elegantly speculative fiction I’ve ever read, with fluid and poetic prose that makes every character interaction, turn of phrase, and high concept pop without overstaying its welcome;

and The Great Hippo, who knows how to edit and polish stories the way an expert jeweler cuts a diamond, with an eye for detail, commitment to verisimilitude, and ideation process that makes me jealous.

As we will see as we get further into this interview, you have done a lot of excellent work as collaboration pieces with other authors on the site. Do you have any tips or tricks for how to successfully collaborate with others? What do you believe are the best advantages to writing with other authors? What do you find to be the most challenging about doing so?

I wouldn’t even say I’ve done that many collaborations – Zyn probably holds that crown – but I have done several repeat collaborations. TyGently and I have three, ch00bakka and I have two, and The Great Hippo and I have two, to say nothing of the team contests I routinely enter with Ty, Hippo, Minmin, and Taffeta. The best advantage and biggest challenge of writing with others is that there are multiple people putting words on the page. There’s really no better motivation to write than reading your coauthor’s banger lines, and some of the most fun I’ve had in collabs has just been shooting the shit about Samsara with TyGently and Deer College with ch00bakka. I love working with these people and so I keep finding ways to do it.

It’s easy to fear that you aren’t contributing enough to the article or be afraid to critique your coauthor’s writing, or even be afraid that you’re going to override your coauthor’s contributions to the work. Unfortunately, there’s really only one solution to that – you have to have the confidence in both yourself and your coauthor to fight for the parts you think are worth keeping, and just as important, the parts that aren’t, regardless of who wrote them. When it comes to how much of the article is whose… well, that’s just something you have to be willing to compromise on. The final product might be 50/50, but it might just as easily be 80/20 and you have to be okay with that. Remember the Pareto principle! 80% of the consequence can come from 20% of the work. What’s important is that you offered your unique insights and perspective on the story and blended it with your coauthor’s. A collab isn’t two people writing separately – it’s two people writing together.

The best way to collaborate, I find, is to collaborate with friends. You trust each other, you like each other, and you know that you want the best for each other. Hell, collaborations are a great way to make friends. That friendship also soothes the burn of who wrote more of the collab 😉.

Back in 2018, you did an AMA on Reddit where someone asked what your favorite article (or list of favorite articles) happened to be. You went on to list one from each Series from I to IV as well as your favorite 001 proposal, which was S Andrew Swann's Proposal: The Database. You mentioned that Swann's Proposal is "the benchmark by which meta articles should be set." Why is that and do you believe that this proposal is still your favorite? Additionally, now that Series VI is around, do you happen to have favorites for Series V and VI yet?

My answer to why Swann’s Proposal is my favorite proposal still hasn’t changed from my AMA. In general, I find that most meta SCPs fail to really take advantage of being meta; they’re content to simply sit back and implicitly say “isn’t it clever that this article knows it’s a story? Isn’t all this in-universe jargon about the Foundation’s pataphysics department fun to read?” It really isn’t. Metafiction isn’t a reward for the reader, it’s a setting. Comic books have been doing this since the eighties but Swann’s Proposal is one of the few SCPs that understand this. In particular, Swann’s Proposal uses metafiction to develop a fantastic character study of the Foundation as an entity unto itself. The genius of the article isn't that the Foundation knows they're fictional, it's that they have a plan to kill their real-world masters. That’s what makes it the standard by which I judge all other meta articles. I don’t know if it’s still my favorite proposal but it’s definitely in the top three.

My favorite Series V pieces are SCP-4774, which is one of the best high-concept SCPs I’ve ever read and one of the purest examples of weird science fiction on the site; and SCP-4910, which is short, grisly, and uses redactions and expungements to hit a pure Series-1 spooky monster vibe with deeply modern sensibilities.

My favorite Series VI pieces are SCP-5790, which hits some fantastic unsettling notes and has strong spooky dream logic; SCP-5656, an underappreciated thriller by Pedantique that elegantly mixes high-concept sci-fi with razor-sharp action prose; SCP-5370, a Taffeta piece about a chess computer and therefore the best Laundry Files short story never written; and SCP-5552, which annoys me because it’s both six long offsets about time travel and a deeply engrossing, heartfelt character piece.

So, your top-rated article happens to be your SCP-3000 contest winner, SCP-3000: Ananteshesha, with djkaktusdjkaktus and JorethJoreth. Now, I previously interviewed Kaktus in this series, and he mentioned that you were responsible for tying in the anomaly to Anantashesha and Joreth was responsible for some of the framing of the article. Tell me a little about the process of putting together this article.

It unsettles me to think that it’s been more than five years at this point since I worked on 3000 with djkaktus and Joreth. Fitting, too, that I’ve forgotten most of how everything came together since then. We talked about it in-depth on KaktusKast that summer — — so that podcast will probably be more in-depth at this point than I could hope to be. Looking back on it, my only regret is that I couldn’t write more of it. I really enjoyed brainstorming with djkaktus and Joreth even if most of the material I physically wrote ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor.

One of your more recent articles, SCP-5555: Made in Heaven with RounderhouseRounderhouse and Uncle NicoliniUncle Nicolini, happens to be one of my favorites within Series VI. (I am a sucker for Mann character articles.) As another big collaboration project of yours, take me through how this one came about. Who is Mann the character to you in this article? Also, what are your thoughts on the comments concerning the ending being "a let-down"?

There’s a lot about this article’s creation from then to now that are lost to the midst of IRC. Even the earliest IRC logs I could dig up – from just under three years ago – start with me discussing the third massive overhaul of the piece with Rounderhouse and Uncle Nicolini. 5555 has its genesis in two separate articles – a piece I wrote about a mass grave under Overwatch Command at the end of 2018 but shelved because I felt that it was riding 3220’s coattails without much more to say, and a piece Rounder and Nico were collaborating on that involved a church with a bunch of Overseer graves. I know I critiqued their piece pretty thoroughly in… February 2019, I want to say. I definitely liked what it had to offer, and I probably saw enough similarities in what they were working with to the mass grave article I had shelved (and which lived rent-free in my mind) that I thought we could join forces and fix both our issues.

I don’t remember how much of Rounder and Nico’s church made it into 5555, but my mass grave basically made it into 5555 unchanged as the actual SCP part of the article. Which is not to say they did nothing. I hyper fixated and took ownership of the conflict between Mann and Fritz. Rounder and Nico owned every other villain from start to finish, plus the fantastic newspaper bits and the kill tables throughout the piece that raise the stakes of the story, to say nothing of Rounder single handedly making all the CSS work. Hell, Nicolini is the one who came up with Mann and Fritz’s relationship dynamic.

Mann did not exist in the original versions of 5555. At the beginning we started with four key themes: the foundation and its people are merely actors; the Foundation is constantly recycling itself as its internal concepts and ideologies evolve; the actors are cognizant of their roles and the parts they play; and this will happen as long as the Foundation exists. The various kill tables comprised the entirety of the skip. The problem with the piece – and the feedback we got – was that none of the characters mattered. There were no stakes since everything was fake and the audience had no reason to care about anyone. The piece’s own themes worked to its detriment.

So we decided to narrow down those themes. I made Everett Mann the protagonist because I was already a fann of the author avatar. His character arc more or less crystallized with his conception: a retired Overseer pulled back into the field who finds that he likes the life he left behind. It’s a familiar, some would say tropey, character arc that I felt was perfect for the underlying themes of artifice and roleplay inherent to 5555. It’s all a massive game in which everyone is playing a character, but whose actions all have real consequences nonetheless. Pretty much all the work after that was refining his conflict and relationship with Fritz. Nicolini suggested a mentor-student dynamic and that quickly morphed into a father-son dynamic to heighten the emotional potency of their conflict.

I completely understand the criticisms of the article. Mann’s arc is too short, he solves problems too easily, this should have been a massive Ouroborous-esque tale series, and Part 8 resorting to straight prose instead of an epistolary format is a copout. If I had nothing to work on for the next decade except 5555, I would rectify all those issues. But by the time the 5000 contest rolled around, I had gone through so many revisions and restarts and variations on the original idea, trying to tie together all the ideas I wanted to incorporate into the piece in a way I personally found ideal, that I wasn’t enjoying working on the piece anymore. I had blown it out in such a way that I found holding it all together too overwhelming and decided that I was happier compressing the piece into an imperfect contest-worthy thrill ride with the potential to be a massive multi-part multi-format magnum opus rather than spending the next decade trying to perfect that ideal. I’m already working on two of those damn things, I didn’t need a third in my life.

And in the end, I’m happy with the result. I don’t re-read my own work often but I re-read 5555 to answer this and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed Mann’s conflict with Fritz, I enjoyed his rediscovery of his killer instincts, and I even enjoyed the twist at the end. Do its problems still exist? Absolutely. Do I care? Absolutely. Those are lessons to be learned for my next project.

So, SCP-2790: You've Got a Squid in Me is the top-rated article that you wrote on your own. Now, you originally came up with this for the Short Works Contest but shelved it in favor of SCP-2810: Turtles All the Way Down. Why didn't you go through with submitting it for the contest, how do you feel about the article now, and when do I get the chance to poke him, prod him, hug him, squeeze him, rub against him, and play with him but not touch him?

SCP-2790 wasn’t even the first idea I came up with for that contest. It was the second, or maybe the third. I set it aside because the first draft was actually seen as too disturbing, and not in a good way. My friends basically said to burn the draft and pretend it never existed. I still believed in the concept of a squid that was totally, utterly, freakishly adorbs and figured I’d simply bungled the execution, so I hid it away in a sandbox and returned to the drawing board until SCP-2810 emerged. After the Short Works Contest ended, I wrote up a bunch of half-drafts that needed lots of work but that I didn't feel like polishing, so I ended up returning to this one because I really liked it and was no longer bound by contest time to fix it. I started by scrubbing the really squicky aspects of the piece – the ones that initially drew my friends’ ire — and focused more on an obsession with the squid and an obsession to be like the squid. Similarly to 5555, I kept tweaking and retweaking it to the point where I got sick of writing it and decided to let the site judge if it was worth reading or deleting. As it turns out, it was worth reading. I’ve warmed up to 2790 a lot since I first wrote it – BFF is the best esoteric object class on the site, fight me – and am pleased that the little cranch squid has found a home in so many people’s skin.

SCP-2820: Vaishnavastra is one of your most popular articles on the site as well as the one you mentioned was your favorite to write. What went right with this article and why do you personally like it so much?

I’ve copied my author commentary here because I think it speaks for me best:

SCP-2820's story begins at the end of August 2016, in a small bookstore in Pittsburgh. Whilst perusing the shelves within, I came across a graphic novel called The Filth and was immediately captivated by its arresting visuals, gripping storyline – as if Harlan Ellison, Alan Moore, and Philip K. Dick collaborated on a reimagining of the SCP Foundation – and wickedly sharp characters.

One of those characters was the KGB-trained cosmonaut-turned-assassin chimpanzee, Dimitri-9. I fell in love - what could be cooler and funnier than a chimpanzee who shoots the POTUS dead? I determined to write my own secret agent chimp SCP, but while planning, I realized that it simply would not do. Talking animal SCPs are a dime a dozen, and I couldn't think of a single way to make my planned chimp any different.

Then it hit me - don't make it a talking animal at all. Make it something that looks like a chimp but isn't. That's when I hit upon the idea of chaos theory assassinations - reality benders being killed by coincidences that just happen to look like two chimps stacked on top of each other in a trench coat. This draft was silly, weird, and well-received - but then I realized that it was just that, silly. Where Dimitri-9 was both goofy and deeply, deeply disturbing, mine was just goofy. Something had to change. Thankfully, the wiki itself came to the rescue. While reading the discussion page in SCP-2700, I saw a comment along the lines of "glad this wasn't a bog-standard death ray". Well, why not?

I hadn't seen a good weaponized SCP in a long time, and was determined to be the change I wanted to see in the world. Within a day, I had the draft of 2820 rewritten to be the end product of a death ray that its followers believed to be the reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu (Hinduism is cool and underappreciated on the site, so I jumped at the chance to write one). I got some positive reviews in chat and posted it.

It languished for about six hours on the mainlist and received a ton of critique in the process, so I pulled it down for yet another massive rewrite. Over the weekend, I received a lot of advice from a lot of readers - major shoutout to long-gone user Eguss for his advice. Where the previous version had a person speaking about the AI, this time I had the AI speak for itself. It honest-to-god believes that it is the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu and is bringing mankind into a golden age. Is it really? That's up to you, the reader, to decide. I think the combination of the AI's messiah-complex personality and the way it justifies the means with the ends are what elevate it over the previous versions; regardless, 2820 is definitely one of my favorites.

Clinical tone is a hallmark of the writing we have here on the Wiki. The essay you wrote on this topic, Clinical Tone: Declassified, is rather popular and for good reason. What do you believe clinical tone adds to the format and what do you believe to be the most common issue with new writers and their tone?

Captain Kirby and I have lots of thoughts on clinical tone on my podcast but I’ll offer some more compact thoughts here.

Since 2007, clinical tone has been part of what set SCPs apart from other creepypastas and have given them a flavor and mood all their own. Good clinical tone increases verisimilitude, enhances the buildup and reveal of horror, and – for better or worse – significantly influences the tone and mood of an article. There are a variety of reasons not to use clinical tone, and indeed knowing when not to use clinical tone is important. But it’s both an integral part of writing for the site and a skill that can’t be developed without practice.

New writers struggle to balance their use of clinical and non-clinical tone: they either avoid it or use too much of it. It’s easy to fix too little clinical tone. Drafts with too much purple prose or flowery language are usually caused by inexperience with the format and can be remedied by just understanding that you have to learn a new way to describe stuff. Clinical Tone: Declassified talks about that issue in detail and even covers the associated issue of flowery clinical tone (word choice like vocalized instead of say). It’s a mundane problem, but an eminently fixable one.

The problem of clinical tone overuse is a little more interesting. That extends not just to word choice but to overall pacing and plot as well – a lot of weak drafts and even struggling articles I see focus on clinical minutiae like blood tests that have no relevance to a reader or infodumps of fake jargon that have no meaning outside the story. The only solution to that is being able to excise the tedious bits, and by extension developing the mindset to excise those bits. It’s a lot harder to diagnose and fix those parts once they’re part of the story because their writer probably put a lot of effort into making them legitimate when it’s ultimately wasted effort. But being able to do so is crucial to one’s development as a writer.

SCP-3780: Who Shot J.F.K.? is a rather unique take on the JFK assassination. What was going on through your mind when writing this one? In general, where do most of your inspiration come from when writing?

The impetus for writing 3780 was extremely simple and inspired in a single night by the US Gov’s release of its files pertaining to the investigation. The assassination has had a vice grip on the country’s collective consciousness for the last fifty years and I don’t know of any event that people are more willing to believe involved a secret government conspiracy. Similarly, there’s no shortage of alternate histories or conspiracy theories in our present day involving JFK’s survival. What would have happened if he wasn’t shot – if someone stopped the shot, if someone went back in time to stop the shooting? We see his death and we immediately want to imagine a different world – a better one. But the Foundation isn’t interested in a better world. They’re interested in a consensus normal world.

That’s more or less the throughline of SCP-3780, whose central premise is simply that there was no conspiracy. Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy by himself because the Foundation fought to keep it that way. I think it’s both perfectly in line with the Foundation’s modus operandi and a perfect subversion of every other attempt at turning the assassination into an SCP. There will never be a satisfying way to resolve the President’s murder – but our only options are to laugh or cry. This time I chose to laugh.

Like all good authors, I draw inspiration from all kinds of sources. Real life, classic literature, contemporary fiction and folklore, comic books, anime and manga, television and video games, even music. My work for the Department Contest with The Great Hippo and Taffeta – five homages to the classic pulp fiction of the 20th century – was inspired by a variety of sources, including but not limited to: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Venture Bros, Psychonauts 2, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, KMFDM, the works of Charles Stross, and even the Tamil renaissance movements of 20th century India. For the 7000 Contest, I read The Mask (the original 90s comic) and watched lots of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry. Speed Demon took inspiration from, among other things, Revolutionary Girl Utena and The Brothers Karamazov.

While my writing style takes lots of cues from the pacing and visual language of comic books, I try to maintain a steady diet of actual books. This year, some books I’ve read include Dracula and Jurassic Park, the SFF trilogy of Ninefox Gambit and its sequels, the contemporary horror novel HEX, and the column collection The Road to Little Dribbling.

Back in 2018, during the aforementioned AMA on Reddit, someone asked if you would ever do a collaboration piece with The Great HippoThe Great Hippo. You mentioned at the time that you often went to him for critique and brainstorming, but your writing styles were very different so you were not sure how to make it work. Specifically, you made the comparison "in terms of Kanye West, if my writing style is MBDTF, then his is Yeezus." 2 years later, Hippo and you wrote the successful SCP-4310: The Hero's Journey. What is the article about, and how did you go about writing with someone with such a different style as you?

I don’t want to spoil it but I’m very pleased with it. It’s a grimly funny flash-fiction about a Series-1-esque monster that the Great Hippo and I wrote together in just over twelve hours. More specifically, I wrote the first draft by hand in the morning and he rewrote it for me in IRC that evening. Most of my original draft survived the editing process, but Hippo added background details and organized and polished my scribblings into an actual article. At that point it was officially a co-authorship.

This is pretty much what our relationship had been then and it’s pretty much what our relationship is now. Hippo’s a good friend of mine and I deeply enjoy working with him but we’ve had limited success with traditional coauthorships. Our most fruitful collaborations, like SCP-4310 or our entries for the Department Contest, have been either coming up with ideas together and then writing them separately or just having him edit my finished draft. Otherwise the whole process goes awry, like with SCP-4220. Hippo will tell you it’s because we have very different approaches to developing ideas: he likes to experiment with minimalism and removing things, while I try to connect and develop several disparate ideas at once. I will tell you it’s because our usual writing process begins with me coming up with an idea and ends with me trying to implement Hippo’s better idea. Alas, I’m just a man. He’s a great hippo. That hasn’t stopped us, however, from being able to fill entire notebooks with the brainstorming sessions and pitches we’ve shared.

The Group of Interest, Prometheus Labs, originally comes from SCP-148: The "Telekill" Alloy which was brought over from the EditThis days. In the 2014 Group of Interest Contest, your team decided to build upon this group. Why did you choose Prometheus Labs and what direction did you try to take it during that contest?

It’s been more than eight years since the GOI contest ended, and to be completely honest I’m sure a lot of my goals for it fell through on account of being the only person on my team who actually submitted anything. I went through some of my old notes and Wikidot PMs to see what I could remember.

As much as I’d like to claim some grand idea for rehabilitating the GOI, I really just wanted to write some science fiction for the site and was spurred on by having a contest deadline. In 2014 Prometheus Labs were known mostly as a GOI of mad scientists without much substance or history behind them, so my goals for the contest were to refine that idea and give them some more competency and history. I was interested in Prometheus Labs as a company in the vein of Aperture Science or Black Mesa – darkly comic sci-fi about trying to create technology for humanity’s benefit whilst subject to the malicious whims of corporate entities – and sought to write contest entries about their work going horribly right since the existing site lore was about all of their work going wrong.

I wanted the hub to establish a setting for future stories against the backdrop of the collapse of Prometheus Labs, since it had long been established that they were defunct in the present and I didn’t want to restrict others by circumscribing their entire history in lore. The grant request format was inspired by actual grant requests I was working on at the time and basically sought to answer the implicit question raised by most existing Prometheus SCPs: why were they made? I wanted to emphasize the idea that Prometheus Labs both genuinely tried to identify and solve problems and were capable of doing so despite their ethical or practical shortcomings.

The actual entries I wrote for the contest (GRANT REQUEST FOR BIOLOGICAL TERRAFORMING, Industrial Espionage, and NOTHING HUMAN) form a self-contained arc centered around the Grant Request, wherein we see 1) Prometheus developing biological terraformers, 2) the problems of having biological terraformers, and then 3) the far-future consequences of successful terraforming. I don’t really have much more to say on them – the grant request is really the only entry of the bunch I think is still worth reading, but I think that despite the cliche death tropes of Industrial Espionage the entries successfully depict a Prometheus Labs that are more than just a collection of mad scientists.

During the Mobile Task Force Contest in 2016, you captained a team that came in 3rd place consisting of yourself, GreenWolf, sirpudding, and TyGently. For the contest, your team came up with MTF Tau-5 "Samsara" starting with the Avatara tale. How did the concept for Samsara come to be? Are you surprised by the reception Samsara has received on and off the site? Who is your favorite character within Samsara and why?

It’s wild to me that Samsara are now six years old. I’ll always look back fondly on that contest and my work with my comrades. The genesis of Samsara was a team effort through and through: In the initial meeting I proposed the initial idea of a task force of respawning operatives called “Samsara”, sirpudding proposed that they be regenerating clones, GreenWolf connected them to Prometheus Labs, and TyGently introduced the story to use them in and antagonist to face. Virtually every single facet of Samsara was conceived collaboratively, from their characterization to the in-universe logistics of fielding a team of supersoldiers. I still have all the old meeting notes saved in Google Docs and was surprised how bare-bones each of our individual ideas were (except for Ty, who blew us away with a full fledged story pitch that we eagerly adopted) and how much the task force grew from our collaborative brainstorming sessions.

I’m thrilled with the reception Samsara have received. The initial contest reception was extremely heartening and I was thrilled that the characters stuck the landing, but I was fully prepared and half expecting to be the only person who ever wrote for them after the contest. I’ll always be grateful to djkaktus for seeing their potential in his massive update to SCP-1730, and it seems to have paid off. I know this is a cop-out but I sincerely love all my cyborg murder children equally. I’m overflowing with ideas for them and could easily spend the rest of my site career doing nothing but writing different Samsara tales and SCPs. My favorite Samsara pieces are the slice-of-life tales I wrote with TyGently – Death Perception and The Powers That Bark – and I live for the chance to write more stories with them.

Besides your writing, you are actually well-known for your critique on the site. What is the purpose of giving a critique on already successful articles on the site? Besides being a good writer, what characteristics do you believe about yourself allows you to be able to give a good, sound critique?

Does that mean I’m famous or infamous? More seriously, when I comment on a site piece it’s because I want the author to know what I like about a piece and assess what I don’t. No criticism will ever be what you’re looking for, nor will it ever be what you want to hear. But it might just be what you need to hear. You don’t even need to improve what you’ve already written, just what you write next. No work is perfect! But that doesn’t mean you can’t take pride in its strengths. There’s always room to improve in art but the important thing is that it’s yours. Hell, I’ve taken criticism on my criticism and learned from it. It’s a two-way street between author and reader.

I’m qualified to give critique because I’m a member of the audience. Everything from the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to that textbook you borrowed from the library has been critiqued after it was published, whether by you and your friends over drinks or by professors at a conference. Critique is a fundamental interaction between reader and writer and one of the fundamental interactions between site users as each others’ peers. Literature does not exist in a vacuum and no successful piece can’t be improved or dissected. By reading a site article I make myself eligible to think about it and to tell its writer what I think. Behind our usernames we are all equals. You don’t have to listen to my critique but I always have the right to give it.

I’ve noticed that the community takes critique much more personally than it used to. Far from just destroying bad-faith trolls or people who simply don’t get the plot, popular authors and even their readers respond to detailed critique of their articles like they’re trying to win Twitter arguments: whether by saying “don’t like, don’t read”; replying with some copypasta or meme; or just questioning the critic’s capacity for critique. An especially common rebuttal is that criticism is useless if it doesn’t explain how to solve the issues it raises. Just because I can’t tell you how to fix the problem doesn’t mean I shouldn’t point it out. The author knows their work and why certain elements are the way they are better than the reader. I’m not trying to style on you or shame you for writing it. My criticism of a piece – all good criticism of a piece – carries an implicit trust in its author that they can fix its issues and grow as a creator. If you have faith in your work then let it speak for itself.

I’m not about to pretend I’m the best author on the site or that I alone am the arbiter of good taste. I have maybe three universally loved pieces on the site out of more than eighty posted and probably twenty more deleted. I’ve received no shortage of both meaningful and stupid critique. The ending of SCP-2664 has been called a cop-out; half the complaints about SCP-4780 are that it doesn’t qualify as an SCP; half of the complaints about 5555 is that a Fifthist article should be in its mainlist slot instead. The first article I ever posted to the site was deleted at -40 and I’ve self-deleted my own contest entries. I’m no stranger to controversy nor failure on the site. Taking critique is about synthesizing an honest assessment of your own skills with the audience’s assessment of your performance. I’m honest with myself about the weaknesses of my writing. I’m confident in the eloquence of its voice nonetheless.

I’m also qualified to give critique because I read Metacritique One: The Critic’s Duty every year. It’s still the finest essay about how to give good critique, with principles that apply both on- and off-site, and every site essay about giving critique since has simply restated bits of its message.

During your time as the Co-Captain of Community Outreach alongside ProcyonLotorProcyonLotor, you ran a total of 6 contests: the 72 Hour Jam Contest, the Doomsday Contest, the 144-Hour Jam Contest, the Collaboration Contest, the 144-Hour Jam Contest Two, and the Exquisite Corpse Contest. What was the process of setting up a contest for the site? Out of the ones you were involved in, which was the contest you enjoyed most? Did you miss not being able to compete in contests due to being the person running them?

Setting up contests for the site were honestly fairly easy. By the time I joined community outreach, the precedent for contest timelines, sizes, and prizes were all extremely well-established: single or four-man team contests, running from six weeks to two months, with the prize being either front page features or the coveted X000 slot. Even the rules were easy to write; I adopted ¾ of the rules from the 2014 GOI Contest that TroyL and Decibelles had already written and just stapled new ones onto them for each contest as needed. The hardest part of running a contest was always administering it – coordinating with Zyn to secure front page features, ensuring rules compliance and answering rules questions, dealing with shenanigans, and of course tallying votes and awarding prizes. That was a concentrated effort by multiple people on CO.

I’ll always have a fondness for the Doomsday Contest and the 72-Hour Jam Contest. The Jam Contest was inspired by’s own annual 72-Hour Summer Mapping Jams: I chose to split the single 72-hour session into three 24-hour sessions. Writing short SCPs under shorter self-imposed deadlines is a time-honored site tradition; I thought it would be fun to make a competition out of it and believed that the shorter deadlines would incentivize clever and compelling flash fiction. I’ll concede that making the JamCons a recurring annual event was a bit much; looking back, I would honestly still keep doing them, just with a single theme spread across three days instead of three separate themes. In any event, the JamCons were some of the most successful contests onsite by sheer participation for years, despite their shortened length and the presence of powerhouse contests like the Canon Renaissance Contest and the Collaboration Contest. Some of my favorite articles of all time, like SCP-3977, were written for the JamCon.

I’m also inordinately proud of the Doomsday Contest. I’d had the idea for a K-Class themed contest for years and we had finally rebuilt Community Outreach into a place where it could handle a grand team contest. The idea was an instant hit with the rest of CO and then a huge hit with the community as the first team contest in two years. Administering the contest was also a breeze; while we had some contest shenanigans and attempts to cheat, the troubles we’d had with JamCon a few months earlier helped us set precedent for dealing with it much more effectively here. It was obviously inspired by the site’s own K-Class scenarios, and I’m thrilled by the wealth of content that it inspired in turn: such as the canon End of Death; the series Skies Made Strange; and the Shark Punching Center’s first-ever SPC-001: PeppersGhost’s Proposal, I Guess??

You were a long-time moderator for the site and part of Community Outreach, Forum Crit, and Disciplinary. If you had to sum up your experience as a staff member, what would you say? Finally, if you don't mind saying, what brought on your sabbatical from staff which turned into a retirement?

Being staff was and is hard. To be frank, if you want to power trip on the SCP Wiki you are much better off just accumulating a following on social media or your personal Discord. It’s easier too. Ninety percent of staffwork is like being an unpaid retail worker, sweeping up shitposts and deleting pages and logging and reporting troublesome users. None of us enjoyed the bureaucracy on O5 Command or arguments in chat or even disciplining people for breaking rules. We were doing it because we loved the site and wanted to improve it.

I will fully concede that site staff have had issues in the past and continue to have issues. I fought for years to change what I viewed as faulty staff processes and battled the consequences of both my failures as staff and staff’s as a whole. Ultimately, I left because the responsibility of being staff was sapping my passion for the site. There were gross people on staff who both committed and hid their misdeeds. Even the good ones made mistakes, handled a lot of things poorly, and hurt people in the process. But we also tried to fix our mistakes, make up for our wrongs, and become better staff.

You only have to look at the absolute graveyard of SCP spinoffs and precursors, or see how slowly even the successful ones like the Wanderer’s Library have grown, to understand that SCP staff usually and quietly do most things right. We’ve weathered numerous crises that could and have killed other would-be collaborative projects of the like. I oversaw a lot of changes and growth on Community Outreach and I’m proud of the work I did for both the team and the site. I’m glad that I don’t recognize the new site staff. It’s been energized and refreshed and improved in ways I would have killed for back then.

Is there any projects you are working on right now that you would like to mention? This is more or less the plugging section of my interviews. I know that you have the Object Class: Podcast with Captain KirbyCaptain Kirby if you would like to talk about that as well.

I’m thrilled to announce the completion of Speed Demon , my cyberpunk fantasy magnum opus about a witch who shoots up demons into her veins and struggles with being both a bisexual disaster and one of the most wanted fugitives on the planet. After three long years – it’s finally complete. It’s been tuned, fine-tuned, and finer-tuned into an aggressively gay action thriller about gunrunning magical girls whose love and hate for each other can’t be contained by anything as small as heaven or hell. Think Chainsaw Man meets She-Ra by way of Transmetropolitan. I’m inordinately proud of my work on Speed Demon and truly believe it’s some of the best writing I’ve ever done.

With Speed Demon complete I’m pivoting away from the wiki to focus on original short fiction: particularly for YONQ, a weird fiction zine created by my comrade and Wanderer’s Library administrator rumetzen. Some of the best authors on the wiki have also contributed to it, and I think it contains my second-best writing to date ;)

I’m pleased as punch with Object Class: Podcast! It’s different from pretty much every other SCPodcast out there in that it’s focused on teaching new authors about writing for the format rather than just general discussion of great articles (although there’s no shortage of that as well). We cover everything from clinical tone to dialogue, featuring a variety of fantastic guests such as The Great Hippo and UraniumEmpire. Kirby and I finished our run on that last year but I still believe it’s an excellent resource for new SCP authors to learn useful and actionable lessons on improving their SCP writing. All episodes are also available on Youtube, Spotify, and Anchor.

At the end of the day, who really is "A Random Day"?

If you ask five different site members you’ll probably get five different answers. If you ask me five times in a row you’ll definitely get five different answers. A Random Day is both someone I invented to participate in the wiki and someone I’ve grown into for almost nine years now. He’s equal turns insightful, stupid, stubborn, flexible, agreeable, controversial, shy, and outspoken. Plus a little self-aggrandizing ;)

Procyonlotor wanted to know what your fursona was.

According to Taffeta, a white guy from the seventies. If you ask me, he’s from the eighties.

This concludes the interview. I hope you enjoyed it! I would like to thank A Random Day for hopping onto this project of mine. It has been a while since I have done these and it is a bit of relief to finally release one again. Here is hoping to many more being released! In addition to that, I already have the next interview in this series prepared, and I believe everyone will enjoy hearing from my next interviewee!

Thank you for reading!

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